Monday, January 11, 2010

Dartagnan, I Love You (or) Cassoulet: Part 1

I've been taking my New Year's Resolutions very seriously (come on, it's still January!). So seriously in fact, that I have been kicking the butt of my list thus far.

In 2010 I have already:
  • Prepared numerous loaves of bread in several varieties

  • made my own pasta

  • made my own mozzarella (!)

  • cooked a LOT of dinners (including last night's amazingly fabulous country stewed chicken with mashed potatoes and fresh-baked bread)

Bear in mind, it's only January 11, and I have months and months to get the rest done (she said, smugly).

BUT - I have also experienced a little failure along the way.

Apparently, I really like to eat out. Indiscriminately. And if someone just happens to bring Chick-Fil-A to me, there's a good chance I'm all in, up to my waffle-fried little elbows.

The biggest stumbling block thus far though, has been the duck problem. Fresh ducks just aren't that plentiful around these parts. When I lived on W. 81st St. in NYC, I would hike down Broadway to Citarella - the most divine palace to fish and poultry in my neck of the woods, scoop up a duck or two, and confit and saute it in ways to make my belly sing and arteries clog. *sigh*

Frozen ducks can be found here and there, but I want a serious duck. Fresh duck, A duck laden with fat (so that I can render it) and gorgeous, plump breasts ready to be scored and paired with with whatever suits me at that moment. Juicy, shapely thighs and legs, ready to weep their goodness into my dish. *double sigh*

I've been spending some time in PA the past few weeks and thought that a trip to Wegman's in Mechanicsburg would certainly solve the duck problem. Let's be real here: Wegman's is the Holy Grail of grocery stores, right?

Yeah, not so much when it comes to duck.

Apparently, ducks are frozen. And skinny. And that's that.

Perhaps I could get some duck fat? Dartagnan sells it in small containers for around 5-6 bucks, and especially with the foodie revolution and all, at least that wouldn't be hard to get.

And it wouldn't. If it was still December.

Duck fat? A holiday item.


So I went directly to the source of all things offal and liver and sausage and duck fatty. And guess what I found?

Say hello to my little friend:

This could be construed as cheating, or as I like to say to my kids, "using my resources", regardless, the $83.99 cassoulet kit is on its way, and holy duck fat Batman, does it look goooood. It includes:

6 preserved duck legs (Duck Confit)
1 package of Duck & Armagnac Sausage (4 links, 8.5 oz)
1 Garlic Sausage (1 lb.)
1 Ventrèche (12 oz.) (fancy French bacon, like pancetta)
2 pounds of Haricot Tarbais Beans
1 container of Duck and Veal Demi-Glace
1 container of Duck Fat

I added a few extra containers of duck fat and demi-glace to my cart (what's a cuppa water when you're drowning?) and expect delivery this Thursday.

With luck, pictures next week.

And to all my duck hunting friends out there (Chan, I'm talkin' to you), bring me your duck and I will cook it in ways that will make even the duck happy. And share the goods right back with you. Cross my heart. :)


smoo said...

I saw duck at the common market the other day.

Chef Christine said...

FRESH duck? I'm all atwitter with excitement! I'm headed over there later this week. Hoepfully the quakers are still around!